Standard US cargo plane will fire cruise missiles on November 9

OSLO ($1=10.24 Norwegian Krones) — The coasts of northern Norway will host an exercise of NATO’s allied forces. It will be held from November 9th to November 11th. During the exercise, for the first time in history, a live firing of cruise missiles launched from a standard military cargo plane will be demonstrated.

Standard US cargo plane will fire cruise missiles on November 9
Photo credit: YouTube

The system is called Rapid Dragon and was developed by the American company Lockheed Martin and its division Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. This is a completely new missile system, designed in 2020 and entered service in 2021. Currently, the only operator is the US Army.

About Rapid Dragon

Rapid Dragon palletized missile system, which during a mission is lowered from the cargo compartment of the aircraft. It consists of deployment boxes. This deployment box is loaded most often with cruise missiles. He is descending with a parachute. During the fall to earth, the deployment box releases the cruise missiles. The release of the cruise missiles can follow two methods: gradual release of each missile one at a time, or all missiles can be released simultaneously. Each cruise missile deploys its wings and ignites its propulsion motor. Followed by initiate/pull-up and capture/climb to cruise.

The missiles can be controlled from a remote command post. This is done by routing the information through an included interface in the deployment box. I.e. the seeker of the cruise missile can in advance direct the weapon to the set target, or at a certain moment, the course can be changed, by the action of an operator.

A palletized missile system carries between 4 and 45 cruise missiles depending on its modification. The system can be launched from C-130 or C-17 cargo aircraft. Thus, the US Army converted the two cargo planes into bombers.

It is not against Russia

The manufacturer says that every single Rapid Dragon system works with every known cruise missile. It can attack land and sea targets simultaneously. Experts call the Rapid Dragon an outstanding achievement because of its mobility. I.e. The US can provide immediate air support to any NATO member using cargo aircraft.

Standard US cargo plane will fire cruise missiles on November 9
Photo credit: Wikipedia

However, what missiles will be launched between November 9 and November 11, by the US Army does not share. Until now, the US military has conducted only stand-alone tests. Most often in these tests, the long-range JASSM missiles were fired from the Rapid Dragon, achieving a target hit of 925 km.

The choice of the coasts of Northern Norway is not accidental. In this part of the globe, Russia has deployed its S-300 and S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems. They are located along the coast of the Kola Peninsula to protect strategically important submarine bases. Despite this information, US Army Capt. Margaret Collins, who will take part in the exercise, said the use of Rapid Dragon was not aimed at Russia “or any adversary”.


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